Lagos Lawyer and Convener, Ondo state Eminent Group (OSEG), Banji Alabi is the Chairman of Council, Ondo State-owned Rufus Giwa Polytechnic. He speaks on the current administration in the state and lots more.
What are your thoughts on Ondo State in almost four years of Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu’s administration?
Fantastic. And I say this with all sense of modesty. Recall that before the coming of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Ondo State was virtually down in all critical sectors-health, agriculture; education, security infrastructure etc were nothing to write home about. This was largely because the state had been crippled economically and had virtually become insolvent. It was therefore not surprising that Aketi, as he is fondly called met Ondo State in a chaotic situation, even as workers‘strike had crippled the state. These men and women were being owed a backlog of salaries, and the situation remained the same up till when Governor Akeredolu came in. Even pensioners were not paid. However, the situation in Ondo today is that of a new dawn as things are fast looking up in the sunshine state, courtesy of the pragmatic steps that Aketi has deployed to ensure that Ondo takes its rightful place among its contemporaries in Nigeria, and even beyond. We thank God for giving us such a rare gift at this time.
How do you react to the worrying state of insecurity in the state?
The issue of insecurity is not an Ondo state issue. It is a global phenomenon. There is no gainsaying that this administration is committed to a safe and secure state, a state that every indigene and resident of Ondo will be proud of. You will no doubt agree that Ondo has once again proven its leadership qualities with the issue of Amotekun, the South West security outfit, of which Governor Akeredolu is a major promoter. We are employing a multi-dimensional approach in tackling the issue to ensure maximum success.
The feeding programme of the Federal government of Nigeria is an unprecedented effort, the hunger rate among school children in Nigeria has already been slashed. In Ondo State – the government renovated over five hundred schools-Tens of thousands of more boys and girls are today in school. In our mother and child hospitals, we have reduced to almost zero the mortality rate of women at child birth, the Prevention and treatment of hypertension, diabetes, measles and malaria and tuberculosis.
With the campaign of our First Lady via her pet project BRECAN on breast cancer awareness, we have saved many lives and deaths have plummeted. And more than five hundred thousand market women and ordinary men have lifted themselves up from extreme poverty as a result of the poverty eradication programme of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu SAN —
Akeredolu came into office with the twin promises of regular payment of workers salary and to leave Ondo far better than he met it in terms of physical infrastructure. Lo and behold, the gentleman has stayed absolutely faithful to the fulfillment. One area where Akeredolu deserves applause is the fact that all projects inherited from his predecessor are now either completed or at various advanced completion stages. This is also in addition to new projects initiated by him that are either completed now or still ongoing.
Do you think the governor deserves a second term?
I make bold to say that this governor is more than worthy of a second term. Even his enemies agree that he has displayed capacity in taking Ondo from ground zero, where he met it to a commendable height. That is why leading members of the opposition PDP including the former state chairman, a former deputy governor, local government chairman recently moved in their numbers to APC.
It is noteworthy that Akeredolu has
delivered more than 45 kilometres of roads in Ondo across the three senatorial districts. Akeredolu does not discriminate between federal and state roads. Among all the governors that have ever served in Ondo, Aketi has performed better in two and half years more than any of them in terms of developmental projects across the 18 local governments. He introduced credibility, integrity into governance. He will never promise what he will not do – you can take his words to the bank. Some of the achievements are prompt payments of salaries of civil servants, rehabilitation and construction of new roads across the state, construction of 100 bed space hospital at Ifon, renovation of about 500 public primary schools and provisions of modern toilets in each of the primary schools across the state, the multibillion fly over at ore, industrial estate at ore. Some companies have been established in that place, newly 400 recruited people as revenue officers in the state, special intervention fund to all the tertiary institutions in Ondo State, among others.
What are your views on plans to stop him by opponents in APC?
Remember, Governor Akeredolu is no stranger to battles, even before venturing into politics; remember he served as a former Attorney-General in this state many years ago, and was formidable as president of the NBA. On this one, I can assure you that he will trounce those ganging up against him, no matter who they are.
As a government, we take enormous pride in these historic achievements. And so let the skeptics and cynics know that development works. Investing in public health works. We can break the cycle of poverty. Our People can rise into prosperity. Despite the cruelties of our world in Africa and the ravages of disease, millions of lives can be saved if we are focused, and if we work together. Cynicism is our enemy. A belief, a capacity in the dignity of every individual, and a recognition that we, each of us, can play a small part in lifting up people all around our state — that is the message that we are sending here today. And because of the work of so many of us who are assembled here today, we can point to past successes. Yet, we are also here today because we understand that our work is nowhere near done.
We can take pride in what we’ve accomplished, but we cannot be complacent. As beautiful, as our result sheet may look as a government in Ondo State, we still have a long way to go as Nigerians.
Has the current administration done enough on exploiting the state’s mineral resources?
Let us all give it to this administration. That it has moved the state forward development-wise across the three senatorial districts in the state is not in doubt. This was evident when President Muhammad Buhari was in the state recently to commission some legacy projects.
We know the ingredients for creating jobs and opportunity in Ondo State– they are not a secret. So, let’s embrace reforms that attract the establishment of industries that can employ five thousand people at a time to every local government in the North East and North West: So, in the face of corruption and the feudal Lords that siphon billions away from schools and hospitals and infrastructure from Northern Nigeria into foreign bank accounts, the Federal Government has to ensure transparency and open government and rule of law especially in the North East and the North West.